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Web Time

Web Time

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Published by dusanson
Short essay considering the variable of time as a building material for web infrastructure.
Short essay considering the variable of time as a building material for web infrastructure.

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Published by: dusanson on May 27, 2011


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Web Time
Duˇsan Barok1 May 2010
Despite two decades of web history
, the variable of time has rarely been considered as abuilding material for the web infrastructure. In technical sense, it basically only serves afunction of sequential ordering of data. Since I didn’t find any comprehensive study into thisfield, I will shortly outline several views on time on the web.
1 HTML time
Concept of time-based HTML elements has been discussed in W3C framework as early as1995
.Later on, Microsoft introduced its own HTML+TIME standard in Internet Explorer
,allowing to position the HTML data elements (
p, div, span, img, ..
) on a timeline with
fixed to a moment the page has fully loaded. Further, the particular elements could also beput in sequences, inherit time attributes from parent objects, or their display being triggeredby events (mouse click, start or end of display of other element, and so on). However thestandard was never included in W3C recommendations, and no other browser adapted it.Original proposal was heavily transformed by W3C to SMIL standard which now serves asa sequence layout for media files playlist in XML fashion (kept separately from XHTML)
.With small effort, similar behavior can be achieved via JavaScript or Flash but practicallythe concept of time-conditioned display of HTML objects was never widely adapted
.I haveno knowledge of why this failed. One of the reasons could have been the problem of indexing
Originated in 1989 in CERN, WWW was made publicly available on the Internet in 1991, and got widerattention along the launch of Mosaic graphic browser in 1993.
Birds of a Feather session “Towards a Real-Time Multimedia Web”, 4th WWW conference, Boston, Dec1995.http://www.w3.org/AudioVideo/
Debbie Newman, “Spice Your Web Pages with HTML+TIME”, 2000.http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms976099.aspx
SMIL, Synchronized Multimedia.http://www.w3.org/AudioVideo/
Inspired by Michael Murtaugh’s script for timeline-based DIV elements, I built the website for themusic festival mapping the data objects on simple timeline, thus creating the ‘website player’.http://2008.nextfestival.sk/
data for search - particular content of a site would be accessible only after certain amount of time spent on a website or requiring special behaviour of user.
2 Web memory / archive
There is a handful of efforts to keep track of data being lost by continuous web contentupdates, including archive.org, wiki versioning system, Google Cache, or Google Wave’stimeline. However there is no system solution for web archiving, not even talking aboutW3C standard. And currently massively popular sites like Facebook or Twitter make it veryhard for the user to access the past data.Memento Project proposes the technical framework which would enable surfing the web in astate it was in any chosen time
. The idea here is to add time element to HTTP protocol,so that user can access the archived content via original URL rather than search one by onein a number of discrete archives. The initiative started in November 2009 and so far didn’tpublish any formal technical specifications of its framework.
3 Web as a patched instrument
3.1 Dynamic web
Design concept of the Web has changed by the introduction of PHP and SQL database.Idea of a network of interlinked static HTML pages edited offline and uploaded via FTP,was updated to a dynamic Web: a network of database-driven PHP page templates editedonline. Textual and visual content got separated from the page structure and began tobe stored separately, though still on the same server (or spread across distributed servers).Simultaneously, design structure was separated from HTML structure via CSS (eg. CMSdesign templates).
3.2 Syndicated web
XML-based RSS format was meant to keep track of the blogs and other frequently updatedsites in “email” fashion, eg. without a need to visit original site. XML translates the pagecontent into structure easily readable by software clients, including websites.Today, content aggregation is an ubiquitous phenomenon as seen in embedding the feedsfrom blogs and web 2.0 massive-user centers (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr) on websites (eg.

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